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BYU basketball: Cougars eager to hit the practice court

By Jeff Call

Deseret News

Published: Monday, Jan. 9 2012 3:11 p.m. MST

PROVO — After throttling San Francisco, 81-56, last Saturday at home, the BYU basketball team is enjoying a bit of a reprieve this week.

The Cougars' next game is Saturday (6 p.m., MST, ESPNU) when they host Santa Clara.

In the meantime, coach Dave Rose is looking forward to spending some quality time in the gym with his team.

"I'm going to make this really positive for our players because we have some guys who really need to practice," he said. "A couple of back-to-back-to-back days practicing will be good for us. We need to really go hard with some guys who have had some injuries and haven't been in, and then some guys who haven't played as many minutes that maybe we need them to. If we can get some good days in practice — we might give them a day off in there to just help them mentally — but the fact that we're going to have three or four practices where we don't have a game the next day is going to be really big for us."

Junior guard Brock Zylstra is glad not to have a game until the weekend.

"Some of us are kind of banged up. So it's good (timing) for a little break," he said. "We'll still practice next week and we might have a day off or so. But it's good to have a break and then to get refocused and come out Saturday. We'll be ready to play."

The Mark Of Zylstra:

Zylstra nailed all eight of his shots from the floor against San Francisco, including 6-of-6 from 3-point range, for a game-high 22 points.

It marked the first time a Cougar has had a perfect shooting night, with a minimum of five attempts, since Noah Hartsock drilled all of his shot attempts last season against Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament last March. In that game, Hartsock was 5-of-5 from the field, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, for 13 points.

Marriott Magic:

With a pair of West Coast Conference road games under their belts, the Cougars appreciate playing at home. A crowd of 14,823 attended last Saturday's contest.

"Being at home with your crowd, with your students back, is probably the most exciting thing about after-January games," Rose said. "You play a few those games during the holiday, and we had great crowds, but it's nothing like having all of your students there. It's a great student section. I think our guys responded well."

Forward Brandon Davies said playing at home is special for him and the team.

"This is our home court and we've got to protect it, night after night. From the coaches to us players, we all take a lot of pride in that. We don't lose very often at home. It's up to us. We have a great fan base and a great crowd every night. That helps, too."

Rogers' Progress:

Forward Stephen Rogers, who underwent knee surgery in mid-December, returned to action this week at Loyola Marymount and against San Francisco.

Rogers played eight minutes against the Dons, hitting one 3-pointer to go along with three rebounds, three fouls, one assist and one turnover.

"He's probably feeling OK. He's probably not 100 percent," Rose said. "You can just tell that he's still a little bit out of sync as far as game shape is concerned. It was great for him to come in and hit that big 3-point shot. I think this week has been really good for him. He got one good day of practice in. He got into the game on the road and made a couple of free throws and made a couple of plays. Hopefully we'll get him right back in next week."

Bracketology:

ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi provided his weekly Bracketology update Monday, and he has the Cougars slotted at a No. 11 seed playing No. 6 Seton Hall in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. But the most interesting part of Lunardi's projection is he has the winner possibly facing No. 3 UNLV in the next round.

That would be intriguing because the Runnin' Rebels are former Mountain West Conference rivals and they are led by former BYU assistant Dave Rice, who is in his first year as UNLV's head coach. Lunardi has a potential BYU-UNLV showdown at the Pit in Albuquerque.

Assisted Living:

BYU recorded an impressive 27 assists on 29 baskets against San Francisco. But for Rose, there's another side to that accomplishment.

"We had a lot of open shots that weren't assisted that were missed," he said. "It's funny as a coach. You look at the real good things, which was we had 29 baskets and 27 assists. But we probably could have had 36 baskets and not so many assists if we would have just finished a few more plays."

Email: jeffc@desnews.com

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